THE CROW: Looking Back at a Flawed but Unique Movie That Refuses to Be Remade

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The year is 1994, grunge is in full swing, goth is fringe, but now accepted as a legitimate subculture. The Crow, originally a comic about a man resurrected after his murder, is given the chance to seek revenge on those who murdered him and his girlfriend. James O'Barr wrote the comic to help cope with the death of his girlfriend who had recently died in a car accident. The comic was optioned by Dimension Films, originally conceived as a straight-to-video action filler. They hired an unknown director, Alex Proyas (wen't on to direct the cult hit Dark City), who conceived the movie as a cross between Tim Burtons Batman and Blade Runner, but darker. Brandon Lee, at this point had only done a few action movies, which seems appropriate given that he is the son of perhaps the most famous martial artist ever, Bruce Lee.

Three quarters of the way through the movie, Brandon Lee tragically died on set while filming one of his final scenes. Depending on who you ask, the stunt coordinator didn't properly check the barrel of the gun being used, which had an unspent cartridge (minus the gunpowder) lodged in it. When the blank was fired it pushed the cartridge out of the barrel of the gun and into Brandon's stomach, killing him.


It immediately became huge news, conspiracy theories surrounding the similar deaths of father and son (Bruce also died on set), not to mention the parallels of the story and Brandon's death. Depending on who you ask, the original concept of the film was completely different and  the death of Brandon caused Proyas to push the film into a different, more melancholic direction.

"Brandon Lee haunts every frame of this film" ― Desson Howe, taken from his review of the film for The Washington Post

Because of the attention garnered around Lee's death, Miramax eventually came into the picture and injected an additional $8 million dollars into the existing $12 million dollar budget (yes, at one point, $12 million dollars was considered a small budget). This allowed the movie to get distribution, use state of the art visual effects to finish the scenes Lee hadn't shot, and put together one of the all time movie soundtracks.

At its low points The Crow is a well made genre movie; at its high points it's beautifully dark and violent watching the ghost of Brandon Lee, ironically playing a ghost, move through the film with charisma and talent. Knowing the backstory, it's hard not to get choked up when the movie ends as it's dedicated to Brandon and Eliza, Lee's fiancee'. The Crow  was a hit, garnering mostly positive reviews and raking in close to $60 million at the box office. It spawned two terrible sequels as well as a TV show of the same quality. The Crow is a film, sad to say, that probably benefited from the tragedy surrounding it, causing the film to come together with everything being in the right place and at the right time. Since then, Relativity Media has been trying to reboot it. It's signed and lost four different directors, the most recent being Corin Hardy, who dropped out earlier this week, and six different leading men. Mark Wahlberg, Bradley Cooper, Ryan Gosling, Tom Hiddelston, Luke Evans and Jack Huston have all been attached and dropped out.
"You know, I’ve moved on and I just feel like it’s… I personally feel like it’s kind of unnecessary. I’ve said this many times, I’ve completed the original movie to honor Brandon and that’s the sole reason I did it. I’m happy I did it for that reason. I sort of feel like it’s his legacy and I personally don’t have a lot of time for people trying to reignite that movie in other ways. So you know, to me, this is one situation where it would be nice if Hollywood kind of left it alone and let it remain Brandon Lee’s legacy. I know every few years you hear about a remake and it never really comes to fruition." ― Alex Proyas (director of the original)

To say this reboot exists in "development hell" seems like an understatement. The fact that this much talent has been attached and keeps falling apart makes you wonder if the movie itself is cursed. Hollywood seems to have run out of ideas, remaking classics like Ben Hur,  to re-hashing bad/good action movies that are only good because they exist in the parts of our brain that embraces nostalgia. Movies are like songs you hear on the radio. They take you back to a time or a place ― and if they are really good ― a feeling. So whether this movie is cursed or not, take a hint, leave the original alone and let us enjoy it.... fondly remembering a talent that was cut short. 

Because we don't know when we will die, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. And yet everything happens only a certain number of times, and a very small number really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, an afternoon that is so deeply a part of your being that you can't even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four, or five times more? Perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless... - From 'The Sheltering Sky' by Paul Bowles. Selected by Brandon Lee for his wedding invitations and is now inscribed on his tombstone
Credits Words by Michael Cherrito Images courtesy of People Magazine, Youtube, Pinterest